Mighty girl

I saw this “footprint” taped to the wall outside of Maria’s classroom. If my body mimicked my heart, I would have done backflips down the hallway. 

I have read hundreds of articles since Ri was born trying to learn how to best empower my daughter as she grew into a young girl, a teen, a woman. 

Ask her questions about her day.”

“Don’t focus on her looks or her weight.”

“Listen to her.”

“Get her involved in sports.”

“Make sure she sees hard work pays off.”

And scores of other pieces of advice for the inquisitive mama. Inevitably, I went through periods of doubt about whether I was doing  “it” right. Does Ri feel self-confident? Does she believe she is smart? Is she worried about how she looks?

So when I saw this footprint on the wall, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I love that she just started soccer last year (and dreaded the thought of playing prior to that) but includes a soccer ball to describe herself. And the adjectives she used to describe herself are even better:




Hard Working


I couldn’t agree more with her choices. And I love that I didn’t see “cute” or “nice” or “polite.” Not that those aren’t fine qualities but I’d much rather have her see herself as fearless than as polite. Politeness has its attributes when you hold the door for the elderly person struggling to enter the room. I would hope Ri would do that without thinking about it. But fearless has its attributes when she rock climbs, runs for school council, and stands up for herself and others. 

Here’s to Ri’s footprint expanding with even more amazing adjectives describing herself. And here’s to us considering our own footprints and how we see ourselves.

Time to run

I signed Ri and I up for a 5K run/walk in support of research to cure Batten Disease. One of Ri’s friends has a twin brother and sister who are both battling the disease. The twins attended nearly all of the girls’ soccer games this Fall so a bunch of parents and girls signed up in support of the family. 

Ri was not excited about the event at all. I told her about a week in advance and nearly every night, she’d confirm “we don’t have to run the entire race, do we?” She still has PTSD from the Girls on the Run 5K where she nearly keeled over in exhaustion from running so long and hard. She is just not into running for running’s sake. And I’ve accepted it … for the most part….  

But as much as Ri dislikes running, she adores helping people. And I knew she’d go along with me to the race without a huge cry because she knew we were helping out her friend’s sister and brother. She has a monstrous heart. 

We arrived to lots of other girlfriends playing at Audubon Park and moms and dads registering for the race. Ri ran over to talk to her girlfriends while I signed us up. It was uplifting to see so many Grandview moms and dads with their kids coming out to support the cause. I can’t remember who the guest was on Krista Tippett’s show “On Being” but the guest opined that we all want to feel connected. That gives us purpose and joy. I thought of that guest’s words as I stood with my group of girlfriends and stretched my not-quite-awake-yet legs and watched Ri laugh with her friends. Others smiled at me as they walked to the start of the race. I saw Ri help a little boy off the bars. Connection. 

They had the siblings of the children inflicted with Batten Disease countdown for the start of the race. We stood together waiting to take off. And 3-2-1…we were off. Ri and a few girlfriends ran in front of me talking and smiling together. I was excited to see the girls running and laughing and I yelled “You got this girls!” Within a few seconds of my shout, I witnessed Ri stumble and fall to the gravel path. Blood, cuts, tears. 

I moved her over to the grass and sat down with her. She had a scraped knee and torn-up arm. Blood slowly oozed out. I could tell she was both shocked at the quick fall and stinging from the gravel cuts. I held her head into my chest. Slowly, I got her back up and told her we should walk it off and see how we felt after a bit. She was hesitant at first asking if she’d have to run. I told her we could walk the entire way and turn back if she hurt too much. 

We walked up to the bike path. She looked over at me and then at her friend, Evelyn. 

“Let’s try to run to the telephone pole ahead and then we will stop and walk a bit.” Evelyn agreed. And so we ran to the pole. Then walked. We caught up with other friends and walked with them. And ran. And before we knew it, we were at the finish line and all the girls formed a circle to talk. Some ran hard, others jogged with parents, others ran and walked and others simply walked and talked. No judgment, no pressure. 

I was so proud of Ri for plugging away to finish the race. I knew she was uncomfortable and the cuts stung. But she forced her mind to think of something else – friends, curing the disease, finding water, getting Mark Pi sesame chicken for lunch….whatever. She is one amazingly tough mama chica.

After the race, you could buy raffle tickets for the numerous gift baskets on the tables. I let Ri buy $5 worth of tickets. She gave me one ticket and she took four. She put them all in one canister for a wildlife basket. It had a bear hat, stuffed animal, zoo passes and gift cards to a pizzeria in it. All she wanted was the bear hat. 

We left before they drew names of the winners. They never called the rest of the day so Ri and I figured someone else won. On Monday, however, I received a call from one of the sponsors that Maria had won the wildlife basket. It was as though I’d been told we won 1 million dollars. I couldn’t wait to tell her that she had won. And for a few minutes after that call, I basked in the glory of that daughter of mine – her strength, her courage, her positivity, and her luck!


My muscle

My girl is a muscle.

When I asked her to help me with the groceries, she grabbed one bag and then demanded that I “load ’em on!” She slung five bags on each arm and started towards the door. She panted it out and nearly made it (I had to take two at the end).
When Ri was in preschool, she was friends with a teeny weeny little girl names Bell. They were nearly the same age but Bell maybe weighed 35 pounds wet. Ri, on the other hand, weighed in around 70. She is, and always has been, thick and strong – just like her daddy. When other kids would mess with Bell, she’d get in between them and protect Bell with all she had. Bell’s parents loved it and when Ri showed up at Bell’s birthday party, Bell’s dad exclaimed “There’s the muscle!”

It has stuck with her ever since for very good reason….


Doing something right

I have been reinforcing to Maria how special and unique she is since she arrived in this world.

I managed to score a personalized autograph from Gloria Steinem to Ri before Ri could say her first word. I read stories about strong women to her while we rocked to sleep. She met throngs of incredible female role models through her life: grandmas, great grandmas, aunts, cousins, colleagues, friends. Recently, after she made some quip about not “being skinny like other girls”, I taught her about affirmations.

“I am beautiful. I am funny. I am caring. I am strong. I listen to people.” These are a few of the affirmations she recited to me and her words were pure poetry to my mama/female ears.

So why would I be at all amazed at her response to me as I was fretting about mingling with my superiors at a work event Saturday evening?

“Mom, you just need to be yourself.”

I stared out my car window and smiled. Then I reached my hand to the back seat and felt her hand clasp mine. Our connection lifted me through the entire evening.